Opinion: Demonetisation Marked The Countdown For A Better India

“Your work will be looked after, sir. You just have to pay some extra pennies for the file to proceed,” an age-old tactic that many of us must have come across.

Year after year, the unsought, untamed, and heinous modus operandi of making money out of money has unflinchingly sustained in its business with its host of crooked expertise. On one hand, it is the money that is sucked out quite scornfully from hard-earned fellow doers who, out of peer pressure backed by their saddened helpless situation, have to pour hefty currencies into unknown pockets. Just for the sake of converting a plain paper to a legitimised platform for making it authentic.

Although initially, the modest ones stay firm on their ground, resisting hard to de-magnetise from the web of bribe and corruption. However, their efforts eventually droop in vain. After waiting for days, sometimes for weeks, months or even years, where time no more does justice to what they lawfully deserve, they make no delay to pump into those filthy pockets beyond the eye of law. Like an age-old ceremony, such malevolence has been sweeping across the country. The act is quite known, yet unheard and acted blindly upon by people.

Indulgence and repetitiveness are other factors that have always been sincerely attributed in the conversion of white money to black/unaccounted money in an amenable way. Today, this care-free, unabashed attitude has led us to a paradigm shift, making the rich merrier and richer, and deteriorating the state of the impoverished section of the society.

On the other hand, the spiral racket of such pooling of money gets aggravated when a handful of powerful businessmen or hooted bureaucrats, with not a tinge of regret in breaking business ethics or law, indulge money hawkers in order to reach heights of avarice. This can also be the other way round, where they happily get involved competing in their hoarding capacity, outlandishly utilising their power of political wrath and freedom of injustice.

With time, it got so rooted that media took no time unearthing bold headlines that said ‘stacks of black money account holders in Swiss accounts outside the country’. What a shame! India, a country despite being rich in many cultural spheres, always scores low when it comes to brutal corruption in sports, education, profit/not-for-profit organisations, academia, and they did not spare even the health sector.

Gradually, corruption went viral; so viral that in no time, the circulation of the so-called black money created a ruckus in the entire country, positioning India with a corruption index of 38th in 2015, which somehow managed to slip to 75th rank somehow with a sheepish improvement.  The spread of this corruption virus, backed by an unleashed stack of black money, has aggravated and reached its pinnacle of destructing India. Such consequences have deepened not only because of our fragile punishment acts, followed by lenient income tax slabs, but also because of constant cooperation of some of the people mostly belonging to the high profile public fraternity.

Despite the untiring slogans and unstoppable, breathless speeches of the political party leaders to fight corruption with the common, age-old ‘fight for anti-corruption’, the evil ruled India, and is maybe still ruling. Not much change has been witnessed in fighting corruption and combating the presence of black money. Is there a glimmer of hope for making India a corrupt-free and better India?

Is it something that Modiji has already planned out? I guess so. I am talking about truckloads of news that has already flooded our minds, media channels, both domestic and international, with the most striking news ever. The epic step that was taken by our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji declaring a currency ban, popularly known as ‘Demonetisation’.

That night on 8th November 2016, like a swarm of bees, people started to panick, rushed to and fro, tensed and anxious to get their old currencies changed. Huge public gatherings were witnessed holding currencies openly for the first time, queuing till late hours that were mostly highlighted in front of the petrol pumps. Who doesn’t remember the picture? Yes, the picture was grim with the aam aadmi being the worst sufferer. And this suffering was not just witnessed for a night or a day. It went on for more than a month, with people being apprehensive of the new move, and of the new saga of fighting corruption.

Long queues in front of banks across the country, death of a few, parents concerned about their children residing outside their homes, fainting of some old-age people due to long hours of standing under the unbearable weather: that’s how the news of disaster kept flashing on all media channels, magazines, and newspapers that were quite bold and thought-provoking indeed.

On one hand, the media didn’t stop displaying Modi’s speeches pleading people – the ‘Janata’ – to cooperate, communicate and bear the pain, convincing us that it would not last long. While on the other hand, the same media channels also broadcast the angst and agony of the citizens complaining about their woes due to the note ban. In fact, the introduction of the highly weighted currency note of Rs 2,000 that immediately followed DeMon, added fuel to the fire. Although, the new currency notes had made it to the ATMs and people’s pockets, yet, they were not successful enough to make it to regular transactions. It has become more complex for the aam aadmis as the note is neither easily breakable nor easily acceptable.

Never-ending debates by intellectuals, stinging criticism by economists, constant bullies and slams from the Opposition, and public hue and cry were all that reigned for more than a month almost in every place and yet continued quite noticeably with the same uproar. Apart from these plaintive wails, the situation got more perplexed when demonetisation was said to be streamlining India into a cashless and digitised economy. A country feeding its population through daily cash transactions now has to continue its daily routine through cashless transactions. ‘Could it be a success or a completely messy deadlock?’, is what most were apprehensive about.

All the grim consequences seemed more like a punishable picture testing the tolerance limit of the citizens all because of the sudden decision of the traumatised note-ban. It actually depicted a Hitler approach rather an economic reform policy, which, as per Modi, is a significant step to combat black money, tax evasion and extremism. So, really an unavoidable plethora of circumstances and consequences, Modi ji!

In line with what the sources outlined, I too, being one among the fellow citizens, would like to mark on the thought and wonder that in a country such as India, where rural masses form the majority, wherein many areas with dilapidated infrastructure that still pose a great threat to development, where there’s shortage of electronic payment systems despite many with having debit cards and smartphones, where problems like unemployment are ameliorating, where there ratio of manpower to accounting is shrinking, where there are no stringent punishing laws for law-breakers, where there’re no fines or rigorous income tax slabs, where most consumers deal in cash transactions, where many parts of the country survive without 24×7 electricity and poor quality or no education, how can a country like India outgrow a model of cashless, digitised nation? Will all these loopholes be compensated at the earliest genuinely, and not just by raising digital campaigns such as the Digi Dhan Melas, or shouting slogans like ‘acche din’?

India surely has its own set of potholes rising at a steady rate. Amid such potholes, can India really outgrow with the vision that Modi ji has today?  Can the entire nation be transformed into a cashless and digitised economy? Will the tea-tribes and the masses of far-flung rural India be able to adapt to this new payment system? Is it really for the interest of the Indian citizens or a move taken for the party’s political interest? And the questions go on that more or less ends up reflecting an apprehensive response regarding note ban policy followed by foreseeing India as a cashless economy.

Today, I think, the aam janata can really give it a chance cornering the sceptic approach and allowing demonetisation to go hand-in-hand with unity in diversity. Millions of people who, despite their agony arising out of the note ban, have supported the move whole-heartedly in the new black money eradication mission. It is public participation, their cooperation, faith and awareness regarding anti-corruption that is thereby combating the black money dwellers. The drudgeries may continue for some more time, but in the long run, it shall soothe the economy. Not forgetting about the successful Jan Dhan Mission, the LPG scheme, and the recent income declaration scheme, the citizens shall give time for the mess to stabilise as great things really take time to happen.

Modiji, your dream of a better India and providing peaceful sleep to the entire country can really be a possibility if these potholes are not ignored. They need to be bandaged sooner, or else demonetisation might evolve to be a conundrum with all efforts in vain. It is what the honest citizens of your country are asking for and being the humble citizens of the country, I believe, today, we shall not let it go. They shall give a chance to support the new move of a democratic India, no matter how harsh the routes be, it is high time that we combat evil corruption and black money. Long live happy India.

Originally published here. 

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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